This interesting opinion piece from our friend Mikael Stelander, a partner with the Helsinki office of global search firm Stanton Chase International, who looks at how Artificial Intelligence may impact on the Search industry.
It's a topic I've written about before and I would agree with most of Mikael's comments.
My personal view is that AI is going to be increasingly impactful for contingent recruiting, but perhaps less so in the upper echelons. In the former, recruiters are primarily (typically, not always) focussed on a swift, transactional placement. The client has neither the time nor the inclination (and certainly not the budget!) for a full on "search" - rather, for these more generic or junior positions, the recruiter simply searches through the candidates who they already know. The use of technology to quickly and easily search your database is almost a no-brainer.
Stanton Chase - Mikael's firm - don't do this, however. Like many of our clients, they work at the top level, and here it is all about finding the best person in the country / in the sector / in the world to fill a specific position. "Finding" is the key word here - the recruiter is tasked with finding the best, wherever he or she may be.
This doesn't just mean an internal database search. It doesn't mean a LinkedIn search. It doesn't just mean a search of platforms such as GatedTalent. It means speaking to industry sources. It means using your understanding of the needs of the client to find the right person who is likely to be gainfully, successfully employed. Not on job boards. Perhaps not on social media. May not be in anyone's database. He/she may be in an unrelated sector and is almost certainly not actively seeking a new role. It's an entirely different challenge.
I agree with Mikael - AI and Tech can help retained recruiters identify candidates more quickly (as a random example, a search of GatedTalent will find me CFOs from a dozen countries, all with exposure to Aviation, in less than a second) but I'd say it can only go so far. While the client wants the best candidate and not the best active candidate, the researcher is always going to have to think outside the box.
AI can only streamline the identification of those candidates who are on the radar. The good research will still need to look beyond that, and it will always take time!
In terms of how AI will exceed human capabilities, I predict AI will first revolutionize research. It is becoming more difficult for an executive search firm to defend taking several weeks to conduct initial desk research; this is not only true for executive search, but also for many other consulting industries.